Sat, Mar 15, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Bayern eyeing title, despite Uli Hoeness tax fraud conviction

AFP, BERLIN

Bayern Munich host Bayer 04 Leverkusen in today’s top Bundesliga match with the European champions still reeling after club president Uli Hoeness was convicted of major tax fraud.

Sami Hyypia-coached Leverkusen were the last team to beat runaway leaders Bayern in the league when they left the Allianz Arena with a shock 2-1 win in October 2012.

Since then Bayern are unbeaten in 49 league matches and enjoy a 20-point lead in the table, but the Bavarian giants are in turmoil after Hoeness was sentenced to three and a half years in prison on Thursday.

The 62-year-old, who won the 1974 World Cup with West Germany, cheated the German state out of 28.5 million euros (US$39.5 million) of taxes.

Hoeness has decided not to appeal the sentence and he announced his resignation yesterday, saying it was “to avert further damage to my club.”

Having been the driving force behind the UEFA Champions League holders since joining them as an 18-year-old in 1970, Hoeness played a huge part in turning them into a European powerhouse.

Bayern have won 21 of their 23 Bundesliga titles and all five of their European Cup or Champions League victories with him involved either as a player, manager or president.

“He’s very important for us and for the whole club,” winger Franck Ribery said.

Leverkusen have problems of their own and last won on Feb. 7, losing six of their past seven matches. Third-placed Bayer were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League round-of-16 on Wednesday when they lost 2-1 at Paris Saint-Germain after being drubbed 4-0 at home.

Bayern rightback Rafinha, centerback Jerome Boateng and winger Thomas Mueller could all return having been left out of the starting side which drew 1-1 with Arsenal on Tuesday in the Champions League.

Leverkusen are set to welcome back centerback Emir Spahic, who was suspended for their Champions League match in Paris.

Second-placed Borussia Dortmund host Borussia Moenchengladbach today with the hosts welcoming back Poland striker Robert Lewandowski after a knee strain.

Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp will be without injured winger Marco Reus and suspended attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

“Unless something unusual happens, he won’t be involved,” said Klopp of Reus, with either Jonas Hofmann or new signing Milos Jojic set to take Reus’ place.

The Germany winger, who is suffering with a leg injury, has been off-form of late and last scored in December last year’s 2-1 defeat to Hertha BSC.

While Dortmund have won their past three games to regain second place, ’Gladbach have slumped to eighth and are winless in their past nine games.

Coach Lucien Favre signed a contract extension on Wednesday and the Foals have agreed a transfer with an unnamed club for Germany goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The 21-year-old will leave at the end of the season and is strongly rumored to be Barcelona’s replacement for Victor Valdes.

Fifth-placed VfL Wolfsburg are looking to brush off back-to-back defeats when they travel to bottom side Eintracht Braunschweig and keep up the hunt for a Champions League place.

At the bottom of the table, VfB Stuttgart’s new coach Huub Stevens will be trying to coax their first win in 10 matches having taken charge after Thomas Schneider was sacked.

Stuttgart are only out of the bottom three on goal-difference, while Robin Dutt’s Werder Bremen are up to 11th after successive wins over strugglers Hamburg SV and Nuremberg.

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